Wrap it up: BJP in West Bengal

A medical student from the Neel Ratan Sircar College was attacked and critically injured in June, after a clash had broken out between the students and All India Trinamool Congress workers, brought the saturation point of the citizens with the ruling party.

The students of the Neel Ratan Sircar Medical College were on a silent protest, standing in solidarity with their cause to provide for a safe space for doctors at hospitals. This was a result of an attack on one of the interns by the relatives of the deceased.

The 2019 Parliamentary elections in India saw the BJP win a second term with Narendra Modi, reclaiming his position as the Prime Minister of India. However, standing on its vow to stay saffron-free, West Bengal witnessed the Trinamool Congress winning the majority with 22 seats across the state.

A few days post elections experienced two violent political clashes, which, according to political analysts, if had taken place prior to the elections, would have seen the BJP come to power.


Image: A political map showing 2019 Lok Sabha results in West Bengal

 

Post this, another clash between TMC and BJP workers in Basirhat constituency that resulted in deaths of the party workers involved, threw light on the rise in communal tensions with the TMC winning the seat.

Walking down the lane at Esplanade, MG Road, Jadavpur and northern Kolkata. The change in shade, from red to saffron has become more evident over the span of 4 years. 

The political scenario in West Bengal is channelized by the ongoing NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Bill- the identity politics between Assam and Bengal, the infiltration of Bangladeshis and now, the Assamese into West Bengal, and the pro-poor policies of Mamata Banerjee is downplaying on the interests of the middle class.

Moreover, Mamata Banerjee’s attempt at attracting votes by roping in actors who hardly have any knowledge of the political or social scenario of the state- Mimi Chakraborty, Nushrat Jahan, Dev Adhikari, Moon Moon Sen, and others are a few names that trending because of their “politically” handicapped statements.

Historical Background to West Bengal’s saffron linkage

Bengal has always had a linkage with the Hindutva politics dating back to 1939. The Hindu Mahasabha was formed in Calcutta in 1939. After partition, the State became home for stranded Hindus of Bangladesh. The organisation submitted to the larger cause of helping the Hindu refugees. Openly stating a religious biasness towards Muslim community.

The communal scene in Bengal was historically planted, beginning with the two Bengal partitions and the pioneers of the right wing from the state itself- S P Mookerjee, also known as the charioteer in the chariot of Hindu Bengali sentiments, was knee deep involved in the communal clashed. 

Post Gandhi’s assassination, Hindu Mahasabha disbanded and Bhartiya Jana Sangh was formed. It later got renamed as Bharatiya Janata Party. 

Keeping the right wing ideology aside, one cannot deny the economic escalation and inclination BJP is playing, majorly, on the employment cards in West Bengal. The decrease investment in the state, in amalgamation with the influx of migrants for the unorganized sector and the out flux of the Bengali youth for education and jobs, has left the state in a helpless position, the revival of which would require attracting this crowd back home.

‘Didi’s regime had become too syndicate style and increasingly unchallenged,’ said a taxi driver, referring to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee. 

Although the regime of the syndicate originated and existed during the CPM rule in the country, its colours became evident only with the scandals of real estate in the New Town area and the very recent clampdown on the students of a medical college- Neel Ratan Sircar College- that snowballed into a larger intolerance movement after a truck of TMC workers attacked a group of students who were peacefully protesting for the protection of doctors from the hands of their patients, injuring a few critically. This led to a nation-wide strike called for by the Indian Medical Association.

‘Ma, mati, manush,’ she shouts confidently at a rally in Esplanade, the political heartland in Kolkata. 

If Mamata was the central image for All India Trinamool Congress, Modi was for Bharatiya Janata Party. 

‘I have come to vote for Modi,’ said a voter. ‘I don’t care who is a Candidate for Parliament from my area,’ added the voter. 

Apart from the saffron roots, BJP, over the years had failed to hold a political string. 

Image: The difference between 2009 and 2014 West Bengal Lok Sabha

The Party workers sit in front of the TV. Tensed about the close shave. The chase between the two parties. 

The recent vote board has taken some degree of turn,

TMC- 22, BJP- 18 

Troubles in the hill 

Darjeeling: After the imposition of Bangla language on all the residents of West Bengal. The hills protested. Darjeeling the main representative, is a home land for Gurkha Nepali’s who have been demanding a different state. The policies by State accelerated the tension. It is an important juncture as the hills are further divided into political groups. The BJP found a route to this politics, by supporting the Gurkha movement, which didn’t work in favor of TMC. Introducing a Nepali candidate was the cherry on top of the party’s success rate.

TMC vote bank drifts, Left voter’s give away 

The State govt. instead of pointing out the saffron suffrage and the communal acts by the Center, to the Bengal voters, instead, her party was charged with scams and intolerance allegations.

‘Mamata calls Modi dictator, what about her own self,’ few days prior to lok sabha election, BJP Youth leader President, Priyanka Sharma, was arrested on the charges of defamation for making memes on Chief Minister. This flashed as one of the many incident where she has curbed the right to express in the state.

Focus on 2020 Assembly Elections: Mamata Banarjee 

“Our party supremo told us that she is confident that the TMC will bounce back in 2021 assembly polls. Those leaders who are working for the BJP from within should immediately leave the party,” a senior TMC leader of Bankura said after the meeting. 

The question is How? 

– Shrija Ganguly and Srishti Lakhotia